Downtown hot dog restaurant continues 71-year tradition

Downtown hot dog restaurant continues 71-year tradition

April 20th, 2010 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

* Name: Griffin's Footlong Hotdogs

* Location: 1449 Cemetery Ave., Chattanooga

* Products/services: The company serves a variety of popular foot-long hot dogs with various condiments. The standard offering is the Mrs. Griffin, which dates back to the original owner: a $3.30 foot-long dog with mustard, relish, onions and hot sauce. Part of the charm of the restaurant is the ambience. Mustard-colored walls covered with sports and historical memorabilia surround ketchup-colored tables, and the smell of cooking frankfurters lures passers-by inside.

* Age: The restaurant dates back to 1939 and was named after the founder's wife. The business experienced a brief expansion under owner Jason Anderson, but all stores except the original have since closed. The store is now owned by Tom Hyde, son of 14-year employee Eldon Hyde.

Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press Pictured is a menu item named for the founder of Griffin's Footlong Hotdogs, Miss Griffin. The shop, which has been on the corner of Main Street and Central Avenue in one form or another since 1939, has changed hands a few times but is now in possession of the Hyde family.

* Annual sales: $42,000

* Target market: Chattanooga residents who have lived in the town for some time eventually give in to their curiosity and come inside, Eldon Hyde said. The Main Street revitalization also has resulted in increased foot traffic to the area.

* Biggest hurdle: The economy because bigger restaurants can take advantage of the economies of scale to offer food for less money.

* Biggest reward: Eldon Hyde said that having students from nearby universities come in, and then seeing them bring in their children years later is its own reward.

* Challenges in the future: Moving or expanding the business without losing the character of the restaurant is going to be the next challenge.

* Lesson learned: "This is a people-friendly restaurant. People know what they expect, and you've got to give them what they expect," Eldon Hyde said.

* Five-year goal: Double the restaurant's size, and double its food offerings.